Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2003 Issue

Dealers of South Americana: An Interview with Alfredo & Gustavo Breitfeld

May2

Item #82-Collection of Peruvian Watercolors, street scenes from Lima



I ask them what they’ve brought to the fair in terms of “high-point” books, be these valuable books or simply their favorites. They respond with a litany of items, all of which are photographed and/or well described/captioned in their catalogue. They proudly exhibit to me:
       
  • Item #54-Simon Bolivar’s letter to Sucre, congratulating him on having founded Bolivia. Price available upon request.
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  • Item #81-Document in which Cuba delivers officially
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  • Item #82-Collection of Peruvian Watercolors, street scenes from Lima
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  • Item #96-1st ed. of Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, emendated with over 100 corrections by him.
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  • Item #21-Torquemada, J.
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  • Item #48-Torquemada, J.
After this glamorous tour of breathtakingly beautiful and historically important “high points,” we return to the here and now. They’ve talked a lot about changes they’ve instituted and seen within their own firm. What changes have they seen in terms of the direction of the antiquarian book business in general in the past few years, I ask. “Recent changes to the book business,” both of them ponder. They seem somewhat reticent to reply, but finally Alfredo digs in. “Recent changes in the book business? I think besides the internet the most obvious change has been the prices, which have risen dramatically. This is especially true at the very high end, which every year gets higher and higher. Even if the economy is not good, books maintain special prices. This is a good thing for both collectors and dealers, as it proves that books are a good investment.”

This seems like as good a time as any to ask about their own pricing. I say that I notice that many of the better items in their catalogue are marked “Price available upon request,” and I ask just how they determine pricing for a specific book or manuscript. Is it based on the somewhat traditional formula of scarcity plus condition plus importance in the canon or some other formula altogether? Alfredo bravely answers this one (a question that many booksellers routinely refuse to answer): “Yes, I’d say generally it’s what you said: scarcity plus condition plus importance in the canon. Of course we are defining a canon that didn’t exist before, so it can get kind of tricky. In terms of scarcity, we consult professors and collectors as well as the traditional bibliographies, the OCLC, and of course AE. We also have a 100 volume dictionary of the Spanish world that we couldn’t live without. But in pricing sometimes, like everyone else, we make our mistakes and sometimes we learn from our mistakes and sometimes we take profit from the mistakes of other dealers,” he chuckles.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Faulkner, William. <i>The Sound and the Fury.</i> New York: Jonathan Cape, [1929]. First edition in dust jacket. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Trautz-Bauzonnet bindery. Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,000 to $3,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,500 to $3,500
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Shakespeare’s Sonnets, In Two Parts,</i> limited Saint Dunstan edition, Oxford University Press, 1901. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>The Man with the Golden Gun,</i> first edition, first state with the dust jacket, London, 1965. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>The Voyage Out,</i> first American edition of the author’s first book, in rare dust jacket, NY, 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gabriel García Márquez, <i>Cien años de soledad,</i> Buenos Aires, 1967. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Mary Mapes Dodge, <i>Along the Way,</i> first edition, author’s copy, annotated in her hand, NY, 1879. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> <i>The Dial: A Monthly Magazine for Literature, Philosophy and Religion,</i> first edition, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy, Cincinnati, 1860. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gaston Leroux, <i>The Phantom of the Opera,</i> first American edition, first printing, New York, 1911. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Walt Whitman, <i>Leaves of Grass,</i> signed, Camden, 1876. $4,000 to $6,000.

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